James, Editors and Maximo Park in concert at the Darlington Arena

In 1988 I bought a ticket to a concert by one of my favorite bands, James – little did I know it would be another 35 years before I actually saw them perform.

I was a student at Leicester University at the time and had just discovered this quirky new indie band called James.

When I heard they had been booked for a concert at the university’s student union I went straight to the box office to pick up a ticket – I think it must have been £7 or £8, which was the usual price for concerts at the time.

The Northern Echo: Thousands of fans descended on the Darlington Arena to see James headlining a concert that also featured Maximo Park and EditorsThousands of fans descended on the Darlington Arena to see James headlining a concert that also included performances by Maximo Park and Editors (Image: ADAM KENNEDY)

I loved the songs on ‘Strip-mine’, their just released second album, especially ‘What For’ – still one of my favorite James songs – and was just getting acquainted with their debut album ‘Stutter’.

For me, this was the highlight of the concert season.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as the band canceled the gig – from what I can recall it was because the enigmatic lead singer Tim Both had a sore throat.

I was disappointed but not devastated – after all I would certainly have more opportunities to see her.

But it just didn’t happen.

Over the years I’ve bought the albums – Gold Mother, Millionares and Pleased to Meet You are my particular favorites – and followed the band through various ups and downs.

But for various reasons I just never got to see them play live.

The closest I came to was when they headlined the Hardwick Festival near Sedgefield a few years ago. But the small matter of a collision with my own wedding day meant that would never really happen.

A side note here: James was allowed to play a role at my wedding as our first dance was to one of her songs – Just Like Fred Astaire.

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However, it seemed like seeing them live would never happen.

But fate played a role and when James was announced to headline a concert at the Darlington Arena I took the opportunity to buy tickets for myself and my wife.

And what a day that was.

We got there in time to see Maximo Park, who were great – especially their charismatic frontman, Billingham-born Paul Smith, who clearly enjoyed the chance to perform in front of his ‘home’ fans. His mother and father were in the crowd and the fans gave them enthusiastic waves.

Next up was the indie rock band Editors. It’s right up my alley and my teenager would definitely have liked their dark guitar sound. Absolutely great.

Then there was the entree of the day as James took the stage to thunderous applause.

The Northern Echo: Tim Booth and James were in top form on Saturday night at the Darlington ArenaTim Booth and James were in top form at the Darlington Arena on Saturday night (Image: ADAM KENNEDY)

They’ve long had a reputation as one of the best live acts around, and from the opening song ‘Sound’ you could tell this is a band that knows their stuff.

Tim Booth exudes charisma. He’s not a frontman who engages in a lot of verbal banter with the audience, but there’s no need for that either – there’s something intangible about him, a presence that audiences happily exploit.

There was a weird technical issue: “Born of Frustration” replaced the melody that was originally intended when something went wrong. It didn’t matter, the crowd was willing to forgive anything.

Booth showed his best magnetic appeal when he descended from the stage into the crowd for “Come Home,” walking between the faithful and rising above them by climbing a fence to deliver a tour de force chant . It was a goosebump moment.

Other highlights for me were “She’s A Star”, “Say Something” and of course the anthem “Sit Down”, where the enthusiastic fans could be heard in full voice.

There was no actual encore, Booth telling the audience they would just keep playing songs, but the band – on top form – reached a rousing climax with “Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)”. ‘, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Laid’ complete an unforgettable evening.

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It was a really great concert that will be remembered for a long time – not only for me but I suspect for everyone who attended.

I can’t believe it took me 35 years to actually see one of my favorite bands play live.

Was it worth the wait? You bet.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/23705671.james-editors-maximo-park-darlington-arena-concert/?ref=rss James, Editors and Maximo Park in concert at the Darlington Arena


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